Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Embracing the Mess

If I had it all together, a cataclysmic event might occur.

As it stands, you can usually find me shoving the kids in the car, keys and purse flying, spilling coffee out of the to-go cup, franticly arranging bed-head hair, peeling out of the driveway at the very last possible second to get to [insert location] on time. I look at the calendar by the 1/2 day, okay? I'm feeling good to get six hours of sleep and a pot of coffee in the morning. Sometimes I feel like

To tell the truth, if I DID have it all together... I might need therapy.

I do well in the mess.

I don't understand my contemporaries who say that they're bored at home. Whaaa? Whenever I have two or three days in a row where I'm relaxing with a cup of coffee and a good book on the couch, I start to feel restless. Don't get me wrong, I LOOO-OOOOVE (luh-huv) a cup of coffee and a good book on the couch. But then I start to think, Hmmm... What crazy ambitious project can I take upon myself so I won't get any sleep for the next two weeks? And then I start to turn the cranks.

Well, I'm there now. Running/cranking/shoving/spilling/peeling.

But I'm ready for the coffee/book/couch. Thankfully, it's as just a day away. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow.

So, I don't have any biblical wisdom to impart today. Just a reminder to myself to make some more room in the margins. Or put my projects in the margins, and make some room in the middle. I'm really feeling the "each day has enough trouble of it's own" vibe right now.

See you on the other side.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kick in the Pants

"What she needs is a good kick in the pants." -- Grandpa Joe, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971

I'm feeling like I need a good kick in the pants. Not that I'm trying to get my dad to buy me an Oompa Loompa right now or anything, but every now and then, for no real legitimate reason, a good kick in the pants is just what I need.

Part of it is an inertia thing. I just need the impetus to get moving. The other part of it is I have a sickness that craves a menacing double dog dare. I come by it honestly. I mean, I grew up with four brothers whose mantra was, "I invite pain!" So, a kick in the pants is not that far off.

Let me say it again, because it's fun.

Kick in the pants.

It's fun. Try it. Kick in the pants. Kick in the pants. Kick in the pants.

Okay. Enough of that. See... I really do need a kick in the pants. Not that I'm not moving. I'm busy. Sure I'm busy. But I need a kick in the diet pants. And the exercise pants. And the housekeeping pants. And above all, I need a kick in the spiritual pants.

This is a good thing. In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul talks about how he beats his body and makes it his slave. See? That's what I'm talking about. Paul gets it. Paul invites pain.

Please, God, kick me in the spiritual pants.

(This is not nearly as eloquent as my friend Jen's prayer, "God, raise up in me a holy passion." But I think it means essentially the same thing, don't you?)

I know it sounds kind of stupid. But I wouldn't call it that if I were you. Don't call it stupid to want a kick in the pants. Because I'd hate to pull the old I'm-rubber-and-you're-glue on you:

"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid." Proverbs 12:1

What? Bring it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Widow

"A test of a people is how it behaves toward the old. It is easy to love children. Even tyrants and dictators make a point of being fond of children. But the affection and care for the old, the incurable, the helpless are the true gold mines of a culture."
--Abraham Joshua Heschel

I recently lost my maternal grandfather. Or, as I liked to call him, Grumps.

Unfortunately, I am also soon to lose my paternal grandfather. Grandpa.

It's a weird time. It was hard to know what to say to Grumps in those last days, except to tell him that I loved him. And it's hard to know what to say to Grandpa now, except that I love him, and I'm so glad I'm near him. But he's in a lot of pain, he wakes up to a 90-year old body with useless lungs, weak limbs, and a 10-year absence of his wife, my grandmother, who was my first family death experience.

I've also been spending some time at a local retirement home. This is something that I always had a heart for. As a child, I visited the same home every week for at least three years to help my grandmother teach arts and crafts hour. I still remember their faces, names. Georgia, Rachel and Esther, and the blind lady who used to come in and play the piano, and Sharon, the young woman who had a terrible accident and was destined to spend the rest of her life in a convalescent home, among residents nearly sixty years her senior.

The place I visit now is top notch care with constant entertainment, stimulation, activities. Plush carpet and beautiful furniture adorn every room. A far cry from the home I visited as a kid, with hospital floors and the constant smell of soiled linens. Not that I minded that. You get used to it, and realize that your happy presence there is needed even more. It doesn't ever matter that they have no idea who you are. There is a desperation for attention in nursing homes, any visitors are appreciated. But even in this shi-shi place I go to now, with all the well-paid staff and weekly activities, the same loneliness is just under the surface.

We have separate homes for our elderly in this country. This itself is an anomaly to most of the world. And it's kind of a sad testament to our autonomous mindset and constant busyness. That's all I'll say. I don't want to offend. I just think we have pitiful excuses.

Like Rabbi Heschel said, it's easy to love children. Orphans, abused, abandoned. But the elderly... Well, I consider it a gift that my heart is drawn that way. Because it seems to be a rarity.

Thank you, Lord. Increase my love.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27